UNODC supports efforts to combat wildlife crime in Garamba National Park in DRC using a crime scene to court approach

09-07-2021

Garamba National Park   The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a country endowed with unique natural resources, forests and wildlife, faces significant criminal threats due to poaching and illicit trafficking of its resources. DRC has the highest level of biodiversity in Africa and accounts for more than half of Africa’s forest resources. Every year organized criminal networks illegally exploit and smuggle gold, minerals, timber, charcoal and wildlife products such as ivory out of the country. Illegal wildlife trafficking generates enormous profits for transnational organized criminal networks and armed groups that continue to destabilize eastern DRC as well as other parts of the country.

As expressed by the UNODC Regional Director for West and Central Africa, Dr. Amado Philip de Andrés, “the illicit exploitation and trafficking of natural resources poses a worrying threat to the peace, security and sustainable development in the DRC and in the Central African region as a whole. Park rangers and judicial authorities are key actors in efforts aimed at detecting and investigating wildlife and natural resources-related crimes”.

To strengthen the capacity of park rangers and judicial authorities to detect and investigate wildlife and natural resources-related crimes, UNODC organized in July a training on intelligence and crime scene management at Garamba National Park in the north-eastern corner of DRC. Garamba, which is one of Africa’s oldest national parks Africa’s and a UNESCO World Heritage site, is managed by African Parks, a non-profit conservation organization, in partnership with the Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN). Mr. John Vogel, Director of Research and Development of Garamba Park representing African Parks, highlighted the importance of bridging the gap between crime scene and court, and strengthening the partnership with UNODC.

The training brought together 29 participants, 24 ICCN agents (including 3 women) and 5 prosecutors and judges. It included a combination of theoretical and practical sessions as well as a group exercise on crime scene management. The training was well received by participants who called for more inter-agency communication and collaboration in the fight against illicit exploitation of natural resources and wildlife crime.

The training falls within the implementation of UNODC’s regional project on “Strengthening judiciary capacities of ECCAS Member States in the fight against illicit trafficking of natural resources" funded by the European Union (EU) through the EU’s regional Support to the reforms and strengthening of ECCAS institutional capacities Programme (PARCIC).